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84 people killed in road accidents in a week

Eighty-four people have lost their lives in road accidents in Kenya in the last seven days, according to statistics from the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA).

A closer look at the traffic data as of January 7, 2024, shows that the number of deaths has increased compared to the same period in 2023.

Between January 1 and 7, 2024, some 84 people were killed in road accidents, compared to 72 in the same period last year.

The latest data from NTSA shows that as of January 7, 508 road accident victims were reported, with the majority categorised as seriously injured (234), followed by slightly injured (190), and fatalities (84).

Among the 84 fatalities, pedestrians were the most affected, followed by motorcyclists, passengers, drivers, pillion passengers, and pedal cyclists.

Pedestrians lead in fatalities with 31, compared with 28 recorded last year, followed closely by motorcyclists, who recorded 23 deaths, marking a slight decrease compared to 24 in 2023.

Drivers are in third place, where seven have lost their lives in road accidents. This is an increase compared to six in the same period last year.

Pillion passengers recorded six deaths compared to seven witnessed last year, while this year, only one pedal cyclist has died from an accident within the period under review.

NTSA, in its draft national road safety action plan 2023-2027, says a number of national and county government agencies are currently underfunded to deliver safety-related services.

These are NTSA, Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha), Police and county health departments.

“The annual socioeconomic losses in Kenya as a result of road crashes are estimated to be more than Sh450 billion. There is a need to sustainably finance road safety programmes and cost-effective safety investments in Kenya over the next decade,” says NTSA.

According to NTSA, many crashes occur on the Northern Corridor, which drives the large percentage of fatalities.

Five roads in Nairobi county, representing 2 per cent of the road network, account for 36 per cent of all fatal crashes in the county.

The safety agency says fatal crashes are highly concentrated in time.

Twenty-six per cent of crashes in Nairobi (30 per cent of crashes for the whole country) occur between 7 pm and 10 pm.

Last year, Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen said drunk driving, speeding, non-use of seatbelts and helmets and unsafe crossing of the road by pedestrians were major contributors to accidents and injuries.

Murkomen also said that most accidents, especially in towns and cities, occur on Friday evenings and Monday mornings, with a notable correlation to drunk driving.

“We have seen a troubling trend where private vehicles are engaging in serious driving violations, contributing significantly to the alarming accident rates. Unfortunately, these incidents are not only tragic losses but also detrimental to the economy,” he said then.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 1.35 million people die every year on the world’s roads, and another up to 50 million sustain non-fatal injuries as a result of road traffic crashes.

They are the leading cause of death for people aged 5–29 years and place an immense socio-economic burden on societies around the world.

In Kenya, as in other low and middle-income countries, our road safety problem has been driven by rapid increases in human and vehicle populations, which have, in turn, led to rapid increases in traffic.

The whole road traffic system in Kenya in its current state cannot cope, and very large numbers of people are being killed and seriously injured as a result.

The majority of these people are vulnerable road users: pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists. In addition, almost a third of the deaths are passengers – many of whom die on unsafe public transport.